Eudaimonia in Aristotle and ancient philosophy

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Aristotle explicitly indicates that the disclosure of philosophical being and acumen in contemplative wisdom (theoria) bears the unfolding of human-divine activity in both the private and public spheres. He maintains that human flourishing is the noblest divine life within psyche, the aim of the highest most genuine and inspiring philosophical activity of practical excellence and ultimately, of theoretical wisdom. However, most enigmatically he claims that the discovery at the very core of psychē mirrors the ultimate order of flourishing existence which very much like the divine-itself is, intrinsically mysterious and impossible to define rationally or decipher in toto. At best, he cautions, that the uncovering of the divine element within the human psychē discloses not divine wisdom but human wisdom (anthrõpinen sophia)-, which given the direction of Ethica Nichomachea (EN) essentially translates to the order of political eudaimonia qua the divine (theíon ti). In the latter part of EN, Aristotle seems to establish that the highest contemplative theoria surpassing rational discourse is the ultimate cause that decisively brings a complete conversion to the moral and spiritual life of the individual uniting practical and theoretical wisdom (phrõnesis and theoria) in service to the divine in humans. Precisely, it is the moral conversion qua sublime theoria that effectually transforms the human to an ennobled being of subtle self-refinement in whom both practical excellence and contemplative wisdom are benevolently reconciled, coalesce and cohere into a single virtuous activity that benefits humanity and the whole of the social and political order. In the final analysis, Aristotle seems to contend that the divine activity of highest theoria seems to annul interiority and spreads-out for the sake of the whole of human welfare. However, his primary motif in the text is to illumine ways whereby the divine-disclosure within psychē may potentially elevate the human animal qua phrõnesis and knowledge of political science, to a more humane and constitutionally virtuous way of life; rendering thus the possibility of a blessed human being that constantly aims toward cultivating genuine political happiness in service to the divine in humans. The interpretive claim of this paper is that Aristotle’s virtue of megalopsychia (greatness of soul) seems to constitute the benevolent ground of integration that conjoins theoria and phronesis into the co-emergent excellence, so-termed anthrõpinen sophia. Put otherwise, anthrõpinen sophia spontaneously gives birth to megalopsychia for the sake of human flourishing. Megalopsychia is the great (practical and theoretic) openness of soul that unceasingly works for the benefit of self-ushering the blossoming of political and moral excellence of education and culture: kosmos and politeia. Overall, this paper highlights the way philosophical wisdom (sophia) in Aristotle’s Ethica Nikomachea ultimately bears its roots in the contemplative excellence of theoria—in theos and theíon ti—the order of theoretic spirituality that with practical finality, aims to bring forth human well-being to the politeia, and to the whole of life a blessed and godlike, flourishing existence. After all, it appears that the establishment of political knowledge and virtue and all forms of eudemonic being are ipso facto manifestations of the par excellence source of theoretic eudaimonia, grounded in theos qua the sublime movements in the psychē of being as such.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusUnpublished - 14 Jul 2019
Event 31st International Conference of Philosophy in Athens-Vouliagmeni: 12-15 July 2019 - Vouliagmeni: , Athens, Greece
Duration: 12 Jul 201915 Jul 2019
Conference number: 31


Conference 31st International Conference of Philosophy in Athens-Vouliagmeni: 12-15 July 2019
Internet address


  • theion ti, anthrõpinen sophia, human eudaimonia, political wisdom, refined citizens


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